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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

The Aging Boat Anchors

Dwayne Rea (KA0AAM) on November 26, 2012
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Boat Anchors

The ridiculousness of the mentally sound?

What has happened to our wonderful world of Ham Radio?

Has it gotten better?
Has it gotten worse?
Has it changed for the good?
Has it changed for the bad?

Our wonderful Elmers that have taken us by our arm, dragged us into a shack full of tube smells, and shoved aside a clean space on the table to work on a project, is becoming a thing of the past.

We now have all this modern gadgetry that makes fixing and building radio's a lost art. No more Heathkit, Eico, ElectraKit, and other brave manufacturers that sold us parts and pieces for us to solder together.

Tubes? What happened to those wonderful tubes that glowed in the dark, smelled up the room with aroma, and kept the room temperature extremely high during the summer and summer temperatures during the winter?

How about that modern mentality of “Modern Day Radio's” are far better than those ancient Boat Anchors”?

Well, I am a Boat Anchor man. I love the smell of tubes, as well as the ability to shift and sift through them when they decide to go south on me. They are extremely versatile and forgiving, even though they are old and cranky.

They are very simple and basic. They don't have menus. They don't have 20 different ways to adjust your speech, tone, or power. They don't have LED's and LCD's that burn out, get “dots” across them, or go blank for some odd reason. They don't have fragile finals that blow instantly if something goes wrong. They don't have the ability to cover all your ham bands from HF to UHF. They don't have the ability to run fifteen different modes of voice and other communications like the modern day radios. But, they do have the ability to sound just as nice and beautiful as any modern day radio out there on the airwaves!

Everyone I have ever talked to, are totally clueless on what kinds of radio's I run. When I am on HF during a QSO, people are clueless. They tell me I sound natural. They tell me I sound extremely good; they tell me my signal is S-9 (or almost the exact signal I see them in my ham shack as). And then we get to talking about our Equipment.

A WHAT??? What is an EICO? What is an EICO 753? What is an Eico 720? What is a HW101? What is a SB102? What is a HT-37? What is a Swan? What is a Siltronix? What is a DX 60? DX-16? A Hallicrafters? A Knight? A Hammarlund? A Heathkit? (Most know this one by now). Many know the Collins line, Drake line, and others. Only those who may notice a slight drift will know the real truth . . .

But the main point is: Why do so many turn their back on these older and sometimes HUGE radio's? Is it the bells and whistles they lack? Is it pride? Is it fear of failure? Maybe it is because the tests given today mean nothing like they did when I took my tests? Imagine the lack of knowledge of fixing your own radio. Today, that is a huge reality!

I may not be the best “fixer-upper” and tech when it comes to fixing these Boat Anchors, but I do fix a lot of them that come across my path. -- Anywhere from bad capacitors, to rewinding rare coils, to hunting down other problems with these radio's. But one thing for sure, these Boat Anchors are solid as a rock, and will last a lifetime.

Modern day radio's are “Throw away” radio's. The parts of these radio's in ten or so years will no longer be manufactured, and getting these parts will be almost impossible. Microchips of today are like the 8088 processors of yesteryear. How many of you still own a 8088? How many of you still have DOS 6.0? How many of you still have Windows 95? 98? 2000? NT? Vista? Or even XP? How many of you can purchase software that will run on Windows 95 or 98?

My point is, these Boat Anchors in 50 years, will STILL work with any radio out there for communication. You will still be able to get parts for them and fix them. Your brand new Flex Radio will have to be reworked with new software every few years, and when it goes bad, the cost of fixing it will be more than the cost of purchasing a brand new Flexorama from Hi-Fi Wing Wang Radio Inc. Yet, people cannot tell the difference between the old standby Boat Anchor and your high dollar microprocessor that smokes cigarettes and drinks beer for you, as you talk.

I personally believe everyone should have the wonderful experience of operating a Boat Anchor. You don't have the bells and whistles, but in many cases, that Boat Anchor will be able to pull a signal through far better than that transistorized microprocessor thingy-ma-jig. The cost of these Boat Anchors are very reasonable, the joy of operating them is beyond ones imagination, and those who have sold their Boat Anchors for whatever reason, end up regretting it at some point of their careers.

I guess one would have to describe a Boat Anchor also. Some folks consider the older Kenwood 520's and Yaesu 101's as Boat Anchors. For me, those are “semi” Boat Anchors. They may have a 12ax7 driving some 6146's or some other sweep tube, but for the most part they were transistorized. They were heavy, and they were IMO some of the best radio's ever produced. This is only an opinion, but what is important, is they worked well for the most part. For me, a Boat Anchor doesn't have a specified date like Pre or Post WW2. What makes a Boat Anchor for me, is the 99 percent all tube makeup of the radio's.

Some Boat Anchors used a single transistor as a Oscillator for stability and less drift. This was in the 1ater 1960's. Everything else was tubes. For those Boat Anchors that did not have good Oscillator stability, you could always count on the Reliable EICO 7 drifty 3 ! (Also known as the 753 on paper). Many of us put a 100 watt bulb inside the rig and left it on. . .the heat would keep the components nice and warm, so when we came home, other hams would not have to chase us from one band to the other with their VFO as we talked.

Just because you hear about a “Boat Anchor”, doesn't mean you are restricted to CW and AM. There are plenty of Boat Anchors that run SSB also. Some of them run DSB. Either way, they sound great on the airways, and will hold their ground to any modernized radio out there!

As time passes by, our Boat Anchors are unfortunately being forgotten. Some of them are irreparable, not because of parts, but because they have been left in some old stale garage or cellar gathering huge amounts of rust and mildew. Sometimes we place them someplace and forget they are there . . .only to find out later when we sift through our belongings, they have been taking on moisture and other harmful elements. Some of us get lucky, scream inside of ourselves, brush the dust off our mistake, and restore our poor old Boat Anchor, promising to never do that again. I will admit that I have done this, can you? And it hurts me every time I think of it. I guess I am human too. I will have to apologize to my Elmer when I see him in Heaven.

Maybe it is time we need to introduce more of our newcomers to these Boat Anchors. Show them that age doesn't necessarily mean inferior quality, but rather nostalgia and the pride of using something that has made history many times over. Something that sounds just as good as modern day radio's, as well as something that has held water for almost 100 years!

Lets try to keep these Boat Anchors going. . .Even if you are a Doomsday Prepper, If EMF ever does happen, the Boat Anchors will shine! Your Microchips will be fried, and my Boat Anchors will be singing a song!

If you are one of those “Green” people, I can only say one thing. . .Boat Anchors love electricity. They convert electricity to heat, so you do not have to run your furnace as much during the wintertime. With that, I will leave no more comments.

I can only thank my Elmers, for their helpful hand in guiding me through Ham Radio, giving me my knowledge, and allowing me to really enjoy the real classic operations of the radio's that dug the trench and pathway for today’s Ham operators.

Dwayne KA0AAM

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KE5JPP on November 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Al Gore says NO NO NO! He does not approve of these energy wasting, non-green, power consuming monsters! Leave those nasty boat anchors permanently off, otherwise you *will* kill more polar bears and contribute to global warming! OBummer should have the FCC outlaw those things.

Gene
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KE5JPP on November 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Seriously, for nostalgia, operating 'toob' boad anchors are OK. But to live with their drifty VFOs and fiddly controls on a day in and day out basis - NO THANKS! And with the price of replacement 'toobs' on the rise... Hmmm. I don't even have any more 'toob' amps in the shack having converted to all solid state amps now. Goodbye 'toobs', good riddance!

Gene
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KB4WEC on November 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Dewayne,
Well said. The hams today, for the most part are a lot like the general public, buy and throw a way . Alway at any expence, keep up with the Jones, get that $5,000 radio , and a $4,400 amp , tie it into a G5RV at 20 ft and talk with you firends 50 miles away. Don't run any less that 750 watts at all times, and bitch about the crowed bands!
The old days, people took some pride in the equipment, had some knowledge about how to keep it on the air, and tried to help others.
I have a DX 40 with a S-38 reciever, use a D-104 and a Johnson match box with 450 ohm latter line into a 80 meter loop, and have a ball with it. Just fun to stay connected with ham radio past. I've got a few newer rigs, and enjoy them also, but nothing line the sound of a tube received, the warm glow of the tubes and smell in my small shack at night.

Thanks for your storyline, hope it brings back more thoughts for others,

Bob
KB4WEC
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by W1JKA on November 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article

Small anchor here,my old recapped novice Johnson Adventurer with hybred FRG 7700,twice the fun and smell alongside my(hi-tech) K-1.
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KA0AAM on November 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Hello Bob,

Yes, that is what most of today's radio's have come to. Your station almost describes to the tee, my station when I was a Beginning ham.

I ran a Eico 720 and a S-38 receiver. . . Wide as all get out, heard 30 QSO's at the same time, but we learned to pick out our friends. That Eico I still have. I still use it today.

What most hams are clueless about, is that each "brand" of radio equipment seems to have their own distinctive smell when the tubes light up your shack.

You have a knight smell, a Collins smell, a hammarlund smell, a heathkit smell, and whatever type of smell your equipment was made up of. <smile>

The sound of a tube radio is far far superior than a transistorized radio. . . There is a huge reason why the most expensive amps for music are tube amps. . . It is called sound quality with rich tones.

Though, I have to admit that I do love all the bells and whistles of modern equipment, I still prefer operating my tube sets over the new era of equipment. My newest radio is a kenwood ts440s. I have had it for about 20 to 25? years. Wonderful to operate. But I only use it about 1 percent of the time. My boat anchors are in constant use.
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by HP1KL on November 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Fully agree, which is why I love my 36-year old TS-520 -- mind you only the finals and the modulator are tubes. When I compare it to my TS-50 the older radio is not that much bigger than the TS-50 considering it includes a triple voltage power supply. BTW the TS-520
unlike the TS-50 has never needed srvicing and has the same factory tubes that date back to November 1976, which is when I bought the radio brand new in its box.

73's Tony /HP1Kl
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by W9PMZ on November 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!

"Even if you are a Doomsday Prepper, If EMF ever does happen, the Boat Anchors will shine! "

EMF, you mean EMP? Both tubes and transistor thank the heavens everyday for EMF.

Shine using what power source? If doomsday or EMP ever comes there will in all likelyhood be no power grid.

And unless you have protected your generator it will also probably be fried.

Seriously, boat anchors are fun to play with but I can't see hams going door to door, 'burb to 'burb, in EMCOM mode with a Eico 753 strapped to their backs lugging a bunch of batteries.

Just existing will be the most important challange...

73,

Carl - W9PMZ
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KA0AAM on November 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Most all boat anchors can be ran off of DC voltage. Granted, it will be a pain in the rear, but it they can be ran off of DC. Many of your older radio's ran off of large DC battery packs of 67 1/2 volts for plate voltage, and smaller batteries for filaments.

I am in the process of building a Transmitter and Receiver that runs off of 90 volts plate voltage and a couple of D cell batteries for filament.

The components of these older radio's are tried and proven. The components of the newer radio's and their microchips are susceptible to lots of things. . .including static.

My "newest" radio after I have it built, will run on 10- 9 volt batteries for the plate voltage. Granted, it will not be the main supply, but I am hoping to use it on field day. . .just for the fun of it. Kinda dumb. . .but. . .kinda fun "Just to do it". My schematic is coming out of a 1943 QST magazine. For some of you who are interested, it is called the QRR portable.
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KB1GMX on November 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
>>How many of you still own a 8088? How many of
you still have DOS 6.0? How many of you still have
Windows 95? 98? 2000? NT? Vista? Or even XP? How
many of you can purchase software that will run on
Windows 95 or 98?<<

And PDP8 and PDP11s even Z80s running CP/M some still
doing useful work. So yes. As to purchasing old
software often its the other way around how many new
systems can run only and still functional software?

I also run HW101, Tempo-One, and a restored
hallicrafters HT37. I don't find them fiddly
or drifty. I've used the Tempo-One for PSK
and it was the other guy drifting.

Technology can be durable and older is more so and
even repairable.

Besides it fun and generally I find that to be the
only criteria needed.

Allison

 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by VA7MNV on November 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Great Article by Dwayne KA0AAM !!

I am a lover and owner of quite a few of these wonderful, all tubed, communication devices and a tubaholic in general. I love the smooth clear sound created by the old gear and find it to be educational everytime I "open the Hood" on one of these classics, something that is near impossible now with all the micro circuitry incorporated into the modern transciever. Blow one chip in the modern unit and you'd be hard pressed to even have the unit power up leaving the owner in the dark and off the air until it can be gone over by the manufacturer or at least an authorized waranty dealer !! Now I'm not saying trying to source one of the older tubes isn't getting any easier these days, but I can't remember the last time I had to deal with this kind of issue with the tube gear. As for sound and fun of operation, hands down, the tube gear takes the prize. I find it so much more rewarding making a contact on my SB-102 than I do on the couple of modern solid state units that I currently run. Again, thanks for the great aricle and may these aging wonders find a place in everyones hearts for many years to come. LOL, I am sure the couple of "Boat Anchors" I own will far outlast me and they were built before I was born ! I am not so bold to say the same for the solid state units!
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by AC4WY on November 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Depends on your perspective, I reckon. My old man, now a silent key, a real OT from the thirties, would have said REAL hams don't use anything but homebrew rigs, only homebrew transmitters, anyway. Me? I loved those dadgum boat anchors and used them for years and years till...

I realized I was addicted and was constantly adding to my pile of pretty old stuff, most of which I'd never get around to repairing, much less using. AND...modern gear works better and is really more fun to use. Yes, I ditched all my old gear for an Icom and Ham Radio Deluxe. Actually, that's not quite true. One of my ex-wives disposed of my collection FOR ME. 'Tis the one thing I am indebted to her for (that and driving me to drink). Still, yeah, I sometimes miss those glowing 6146es...but I know not to go down that road again. LOL.
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by K8QV on November 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Tube rigs seemed to have fewer problems. On the rare occasion that a component would fail, the user could fix it. I don't recall the old stuff being inferior to the modern marvels in any way. Newer rigs are easier to take mobile and portable, but that's about all from what I can see. I miss my old crap.
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by N4JTE on November 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Not sure if my early series IC 751a is a boat anchor, might be okay for a canoe but I do appreciate this big old brick. Reminds me of the old slant 6 ford we had, fairly easy to fix and upgrade when needed.
Best receive and audio reports always when compared to many newer radios on the shelf.
Tnx for nice article, enjoyed your thoughts.
Bob
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by K9MHZ on November 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Boat anchors are fun. No, they don't compare to modern rigs, but while a '57 Chevy or a '67 Mustang can't compare to the features of muscle cars today, who would turn down owning one?

It's all good.

 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KC5PGZ on November 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I read this article with great pleasure! I am probably a fairly recent ham in most of your eyes...I started in the mid 90's and upgraded to General before 2000. I started with a 706 for HF and then moved to Drakes. Of course I have more than one, so I guess I fall into the collector of boatanchors status.

My daily radio these days is an old Kenwood TS-820, but it has a Ten-Tec Corsair (my newest radio in the shack) that I use on another band.

They drift a little sometimes, but in my mind, and opinion, it was the images of these radios that got me started, and made me want to be a ham. I, like others can work on them, and over the last several years, I have very few, if any problems with them.

On the other hand, I do run the 706's in the vehicles, the auto notch filter is pretty nice, and it is very easy to remote mount the head away from the radio body. That is a little hard to do with my old Drake TR-4's!!!!

I retired from Information Techology, so I guess I could be revolting against years of advanced technology. I still have laptops and computers around me, but they DO NOT impress me...

73

Craig
KC5PGZ
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KB8BAB on November 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article!
Although I have not been a Ham for very long, I too love the older radios. Mine are not quite as old as Collins, Drakes , Hammerlunds out there (TS-530, 820) and some may not even consider these "true" tube radios, but there's something about them along with a tube amp...that just makes me smile when I'm on the air.

I guess it's all a matter of preference...hence the saying..."to each their own"...

73
Bart
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KA5DWI on November 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Hi all,
It's wintertime!!
The boat anchor is turned on. If we have a severe cold spell, I have another one plus my Heathkit KW amplifier to keep it warm here.

What better rigs than a Drake TR3 and a Swan 350.

I also have had the pleasure to operate an EICO 720, Heathkit DX40 and a Gonset G28.

Long live boat anchors... including this one :)
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by W5GNB on November 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I have several "Boat Anchors" here along with some home brew stuff and some of the most recent gear on the market. I must say that the Boat Anchors are the Most enjoyable to operate on a daily basis.

I am pretty much CW Only so the older gear is very suitable for that mode.

The newer gear is neat with all that Computer crap in them but it doesn't really impress me too much....

I work in Broadcast Engineering and work with High Tech stuff all day long. It makes it nice to come home and step back into the real world of great OLD Tube Radio gear after a long day fooling with all that Computer Junk
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by ONAIR on November 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
There is just something different about boat anchors. The look, the smell, the way they can heat up your shack, that glow! It's a different experience, and one that every modern ham needs to see for themselves. It will just change the way you feel about radio.
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KB2CPW on November 26, 2012 Mail this to a friend!

@ KE5JPP

Not everything had a drifty VFO, My B&W 6100 is as rock solid as more modern radios. You simply dial in your frequency and you're done. It's an ingenious design which dates back to the early 60's and can't be beat.. My daily rig is a Hurricane @ 47 years old, low power 500 watts, hi power around 1100 watts. And drift is a non issue. The RX is superb and I love using it. I'ts by no means a contest rig, but I hate contesting anyway.. lol Richy N2ZD
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by G3LBS on November 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
It's true folks you can't make table lamps out of ceramic tubes.
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by VK5GI on November 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
A really good article, I really enjoyed it. Alas, due to space restrictions at the QTH, I only have one boatanchor now, and that is a venerable Hallicarafters S-38E, rebuilt from the ground up by myself and an Elmer. It is truly better than when it came out of the factory, and gave both of us a real feeling of pride and satisfaction when we had finished it. Good on you!
Norm VK5GI
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by AE5QB on November 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Well written article with an obvious bias. Sometimes we just have to move on. Model A's have a lot of nostalgic value but you don't see them being driven by the typical car driver. Muskets were popular in their day but only a select few fire them today and that isn't because they are the best hunting device available. We could go on and on. The bottom line is that life goes on, things improve, and tastes change. Get over it. Today's equipment is so much better than old stuff in so many ways. Easier to operate, certainly more stable, and the relative cost per watt or cost per db is certainly lower today than in yesteryear. I like playing with old equipment once in a while, but I would never consider using it as a primary station today. I'll take my FT857 or my KX3 on our next SOTA climb and you can take your Hallicrafters. We'll see who makes it to the top. To each his own I guess.

I only have one boat anchor that I just couldn't give up for any reason. She's not quite in the shape she used to be. Certainly newer models are slimmer, sound great, and have a lot of factory improvements. But the new models are much harder to understand and come with menus of extra hardware you have to buy to keep them running. Yep I agree with you that there is something special about those old rigs. I've had mine for 40 years and will never give up my wife. On the other hand, I am not so sure her opinion of this old boat anchor is the same.
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KE5JPP on November 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
@KB2CPW
@KB1GMX

For each boat anchor that you claim is not a driftmaster, I can name 10 boat anchors that are.

This article was not about YOUR favorite boat anchor.

Gene
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by WA7URV on November 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I've learned from a good friend of mine, K7FM, that the key is to make sure any boat anchor I come across ends up in a warm, dry home, NOT in the dump! For some of us, it's our job! - Phil, WA7URV, Sherwood, OR
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by K0IZ on November 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I would add only one suggestion to your good article: If you have a boatanchor, use it. Put it on the air.

I have two stations, one vintage Collins with KWM2A, 75S3B, 30L1, and a second setup with an Elecraft K3 which I run remote.

I almost always use the KWM2A when not remote. Many that I talk to are using a modern radio, but tell me that they have a xxxx and a XXX sitting there, but haven't turned it on for a while. What a shame.
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by WA7NDD on November 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I remember boat anchors well. Hams asking each other
what frequency are you on. QRX one while I zero-beat
is that any better. I wish I had RIT his cw signal is
drifting again, this darn barn door receiver. I hate that slow, sticking antenna relay.
I have a friend that has a garage full of boat anchors,
and he'd love to fined a buyer with big money and a big
trailer. But if you look at his photo on QRZ, there is a wall full of working boat anchors, he uses his TS590S.
WA7NDD
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KE5JPP on November 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I have a few boat anchor receivers around here and I enjoy turning them on from time to time. It is fine if you operate a boat anchor for nostalgic purposes. But to suggest that they are superior to today's rigs and advocate new hams purchase them to operate as their primary rigs is not being realistic.

The guys that say that they are much easier to fix and understand are just using a simpleton excuse for being not being willing or able to learn modern electronics. The aging Ham population and the abundance of non-technical type operators also use this excuse as to why they just can't fix a modern rig. Of course, this is nonsense. I can fix anything from a 'toob' based board anchor all the way up to a FPGA based SDR and I am an old fart. I just have not closed my mind and decided to live in the 'good old days'.

Gene
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by TTOMAS59 on November 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
My preference is 80s era. A little bit of old and new from the Omni C to the FT-1000D. Too old is too high maintenance and too new is too complex (menues) and plastic. I think they just about had it right except for some poor soldering.
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by WB7TXG on November 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Great article. Enjoyed the read quite a bit.. I too love boat anchors and have several young boat anchors.. I cant see the new SS stuff as well as I can my older rigs.. I can repair my older rigs.. my Pro2.. maybe some minor things.. love 3-500z amps.. My SB220 is still running after all these years.. Its been very forgiving of some of my dumb mistakes.. I rather doubht a SS amp would be as forgiving.. The old B line still has that mystic when you turn it on. I can hear and work anything anyone else can .. Ill spend my other spare money on my other hobbies and run this older tube stuff for another 20 years or so... Just saying
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KB2DHG on November 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
AHHH you struck a cord with me... I love the vintage rigs of yesterday. Although my main rig is a new Yaesu FT-950, I still have and operate my boat anchors which include: an EICO 723 CW Transmitter. My first rig as a Novice My Drake B-Lines, and Yaesu FT-101EE... Let me tell you all something... I love my FT-950 but it just does not give me the same feeling I get when I make a contact the old fashioned way...
YES it is so much easier to press the button on the 950 and get right on the air but plaung with the plate and load and really tweeking the output on a tubed rig is so cool! As any Ham can tell you who grew up on these rigs, there is nothing like the sound of the audio and the mystical smells and sounds and glow of a boat anchor. Sort of like Sports cars compaired to yesterday and today... Todays sports cars are trully faster, handle far better and have bells and whistles to charm a beast. BUT there is nothing like the drive of a vintage sports car. That true drive by the seat of your pants, clutching that steering wheel and holding on to a curve. TRUE MOTTORING! Boat anchors also provide that seat of your paints feeling. Truly as the author pointed out, they have been here for 60 years I doube I will be saying that about my FT-950?
Nice article, I love this Hobby
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KB2DHG on November 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
AHHH you struck a cord with me... I love the vintage rigs of yesterday. Although my main rig is a new Yaesu FT-950, I still have and operate my boat anchors which include: an EICO 723 CW Transmitter. My first rig as a Novice My Drake B-Lines, and Yaesu FT-101EE... Let me tell you all something... I love my FT-950 but it just does not give me the same feeling I get when I make a contact the old fashioned way...
YES it is so much easier to press the button on the 950 and get right on the air but plaung with the plate and load and really tweeking the output on a tubed rig is so cool! As any Ham can tell you who grew up on these rigs, there is nothing like the sound of the audio and the mystical smells and sounds and glow of a boat anchor. Sort of like Sports cars compaired to yesterday and today... Todays sports cars are trully faster, handle far better and have bells and whistles to charm a beast. BUT there is nothing like the drive of a vintage sports car. That true drive by the seat of your pants, clutching that steering wheel and holding on to a curve. TRUE MOTTORING! Boat anchors also provide that seat of your paints feeling. Truly as the author pointed out, they have been here for 60 years I doube I will be saying that about my FT-950?
Nice article, I love this Hobby
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by WA1SEO on November 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Does my SWAN 100MXA count? Nice article.
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by K1FPV on November 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Ahhhhhh...this is the time of year that I love using my boat anchors! My shack is in the basement, and I don't need to use the heater when they are on as they warm up the room I use as my shack.

My favorite setup is my old Knight R-55 and my first Novice transmitter using a 6DQ6 oscillator-transmitter from the 1963 ARRL Handbook. Also have a DX-40 with an HQ-110A I use on AM a lot and am working on resurrecting my old homebrew 813 AM transmitter with my HQ-180.

Almost 50 years and I still can't get enough!

Bill
K1FPV
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KB3YVS on November 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Hi, I am relatively new to ham radio, got my tech in June and my general in August. I was drawn into ham radio partly because of the nostalgic tube radios. Its just something about their glow, smell, look, and ease of operation that catches my eye. They may not have some sort of software thing that controls this, adjusts that. They may not have some sort of "plug-in" where you can have some sort of computer tuning every little thing for you (used by people who only OPERATE radios), but they are like an old car: rugged, sturdy, easy to fix, and you don't have to be a computer genius to work on them. A new car may have all of the fancy things like power steering, computerized sensors thoughout it and all that crap, but an old car you know what you are looking at, you can stand inside of the engine compartment, and you can fix it yourself without havimg to be a mechanic, same with tube radios vs. new radios. And for anyone saying that tube radios would be useless with an EMP due to lack of a power grid probably did not think of a car battery hooked up to a solar panel or wind turbine, etc. tubes rock! P.S. My first radio was a HeathkitHW-32 which is currently having the caps replaced.
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by G3LBS on November 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Read 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by AD4U on November 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I own and operate around 40 different restored boat anchor radios. I guess I am finally buying all the rigs I drooled over when I was in high school and had no money. At any time I may be using a Collins KWM-1 or a Kenwood TS-830S, which is my favorite radio of all time. My latest trip into nostalgia is a Drake 2B receiver and a Drake 2NT crystal controlled novice transmitter. Using these 50 year old boat anchors with several crystals on the lower end of 40 meters and 50 watts into a dipole up around 60 feet, I am up to 293 countries and still hunting for more. You DO NOT need a $10K radio or a $200 43 foot miracle vertical to work lots of DX.

Dick AD4U
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by WB9QEL on November 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I grew up on the Yaesu FT-101's when I was a new Ham. When I tried the Kenwood hybrids, I liked them better, and that's all I have ever had since.

I have never had anything older or newer than the rigs I described above. I love them, but they are hard to find now with all the scam artists out there. I mean the ones that actually work.

I'm thinking about getting a new modern Rig for a change. If I do, I hope it won't be an epic disappointment.

One thing I will say about The Aging Boat Anchors, they have Character! That goes along way with me.





 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by K7NSW on November 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
First licensed in 1961. Used Heathkit tube gear. Now run new TenTec Omni solid state xcvr and miss my old vacuum tubes. Sooo, I bought Tentec's rf amplifier: a pair of 3-500Z transmitting tubes. My operating table sits next to a full length mirror. I can see my tubes glowing when I operate = WONDERFUL. Looks like I am getting the best of both worlds - lucky me!
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by NZ5L on November 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I really like using "Boat Anchors". More and more hams are getting into vintage, someday soon most hams will have at least one real vintage piece, if only to operate during Straight Key Night. I also favor crystal frequency control, but that may change if I find a really stable companion VFO.
I am qrv'd on 80, 40, and 15 Mtrs with an HW-16, and will shortly add a venerable DX-20 to that lineup. If my ship ever comes in, I will collect Collins - the Cadillac of Boat Anchors. Properly used and maintained, a KWM-2 will match any modern rig in audio quality, stability, and sensitivity, and has a frequency readout to a fraction of a KiloCYCLE. And zero "phase noise".
And don't forget, you can still use your tube radio after the Iranians set off a nuke in downtown Manhattan. Try that with your Yaecomwood TSFTIC700000.
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by K6CRC on November 27, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
EMI? Nukes over Manhattan?
If someone starts setting off nukes over the US, playing with radios will be the LAST of our priorities...

Boatanchors ham rigs? Tough to listen to drifting all over. I have owned a couple of Hammarlund receivers. Fun to restore, but becoming essentially useless as Shortwave either dies or goes digital.

That said, you can learn a lot by restoring an old piece of tube gear. I enjoy restoring old tube audio amps. Do not sound as good as the modern Class T digital amps, but are nicer to look at in a dark room! Pink Floyd or 'Kind of Blue' goes well with tubes.
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by G3LBS on November 28, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
If you want to recruit a new ham, there is nothing as good as a glowing boat anchor in a gloomy shack, particularly if the glow is modulated by the voice.
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by G4FUT on November 28, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
With your permission I have reproduced this excellent article on a UK Forum.
www.hamradiodeals.co.uk
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KE4ZHN on November 28, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Boat anchors are fine for strolling down memory lane once in a while. Its just like those who collect old model A's. They may be cool to cruise around town in and turn a few heads...but would you want to drive from NY to California in one?
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by AF6AU on November 28, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I still have several all tube/valve receivers, amplifiers, and test gear and love them. I also have a TS-820S with a 250hz cw filter that works very well. These are all nice nostalgic devices. However for emergency, power failure, and solar power use I have my solid state transceivers as well. Compared to the modern mini-rigs (FT-857 or an IC-706), many would consider a vintage Icom IC-751(a) a boatanchor.

That's fine, because, any good working old rig is a cool thing to have. I drive my old Gonset GSB 101 amp that uses a quad of cheap 811A's, with my solid state rigs, I just had to alter it's keying circuits with a 12 volt reed relay, and install a cut-off bias system, and it works as well as any Ameritron amp running 811A's. However I bought it for $250, and added $50 in improvments.

Every new(er) ham should get familiar with "Zero State" vacuum devices with buying an older amplifier and going through it, as when it comes to reliable power over 500 watts, it's hard to beat filament emitted electrons streaming through a vacuum, especially when you can see the filament light through clear glass.

Bang for the buck, you can really learn a lot from rebuilding and updating an older amplifier. I know of a fellow club member that has a Heathkit Chippewa (2ea. 4-400A's) that has a bad power supply that I may cart off soon. I think it pumps out 350 watts in heat from the filaments and voltage dropping resistors just sitting there in "Standby". But you cannot beat reading your logbook from the light thrown off a pair of 4-400's with red heat plates.

And to that, my avoidance to the ceramics like a 3cx1500, it just cannot compare to any glass power amplifier (4-1000A, 4-400's, 3-500's, 3-1000's, 813's etc.) in simple beauty, and visibly knowing when pushing the kilowatt edge. Just KEEP THE DARN FINGERS OUT OF THE POWER SUPPLY!

Long live glowing filaments, the blue glow of electrons hitting glass, and mercury rectifiers....

JML
AF6AU
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by K3RZB on November 28, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Couldn't agree more!!! Best thing about them is you can actually REPAIR them yourself if you're a bit technical..

Ever try repairing your HDTV?? Or, for that matter, your new anything?

Stu
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by K3RKU on November 28, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Great article. Brings back memories. I got my license in 1962 at 14. Couldn't afford many of the rigs you mentioned. I built a DX-60 and R-100. I got a Yaesu FT-950 last year to get the "new" bands and have a radio that wasn't 40 years old. I have enjoyed the features immensely. It doesn't take me minutes to change frequency now.
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KB2CPW on November 28, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
"Boat anchors are fine for strolling down memory lane once in a while. Its just like those who collect old model A's. They may be cool to cruise around town in and turn a few heads...but would you want to drive from NY to California in one? "

LOL, my father did just the opposite. He P*ssed off one of his superiors and when he was discharged from the Navy in 44, he was dumped in California. The problem was he and his pal, lived in NY. The grabbed a beat up Model A, had the bearings hand babbited and drove that car all the way to NJ. The were stopped in NJ for not having fenders and the car was not permitted to go on to NY.

So old things do carry you along. Anyway, many of you arguing the merits and demerits of tube radios probably have amplifiers that are of the tube variety. You still have to tune those older and cheaper amps when moving around the bands. Unless you have the clams for a big auto tuner, auto tuning or solid state amp and interconnection cables and you are commenting here about the detriments of boat anchor radios, that makes you somewhat hypocritical when condemning them. You could have the fanciest radio, but if you have ie. an AL-80B, it will take you the same time to navigate around the bands as I do.
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KB1GMX on November 28, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
5jpp>>


Yes there are a lot of radios that were poor to start and a few more that didn't get the right repairs and they drift or worse then never get to warm up and they drift.

As to favorite radios.. What I have was more coincidence
and not favorite in that what I favor is not what I have.

FYI the other night I was on 6M with a guy running a TS2000X.. I was chasing him up and down. Seems his shack is cold like 50 degrees and as the room warmed and the radio too the drift was worse than Swan 250
(the drifty 250). YEs there are plenty of solid state gear I'd say are not that much better.

Allison

 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by AE5QB on November 28, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I don't know the story behind the term "boat anchor," but in my opinion that pretty much sums it up.
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KA0AAM on November 28, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
With your permission I have reproduced this excellent article on a UK Forum.
www.hamradiodeals.co.uk

Perfectly fine with me. I hope they enjoy it.
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by AE4YW on November 28, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Nothing like a boat anchor! All I got left is an old Swan 500 but it is a Doozie! I fire it up ever once in a while. Real radios glow in the dark you know. Sure it drifts for about an hour but it is remarkably stable after that. I just turn it on about an hour or two before I use it. You have missed the boat if you have never used a boat anchor!
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KF4LVC on November 28, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I am on both sides of the fence on this one! I have a couple of really great modern rigs and, honestly, for DX work in tough conditions, our DSP & roofing filters are definitely a great benefit. Even some of our older solid state rigs with really great IF shift & Notch filters are still pretty good!
However, I do happily operate tube-type (and older solid state "analog") rigs from time to time. Actually, one of my best transceivers was a Yaesu FT-101 EE! I also owned a Kenwood TS-820 that I was very fond of! My best low-band receiver was a Hammerlund HQ-129x.
Recently I purchased a Heathkit GR-54 receiver for pennies. It is 100% functional and aligned, but cosmetically not great. Very sensitive, selective, and sounds great! I also own, and occasionally operate, a very nice Yaesu FT-301 transceiver. I picked it up at the same hamfest for $100, power supply included. Though it is solid state, it is an analog display. It's one hot tamale on the air bot TX and RX, even though it doesn't have the DSP & filters of today's rigs. I also use a Ten Tec Paragon a lot on HF.
I know quite a few guys locally that still use and swear by the the Kenwood TS-520's!

My view is that "boat anchors" may not be able to compete with the latest technologies, but they sure are fun to operate. And, if you have never operated a tube rig before, you should try it! I think you would be pleasantly surprised. I think I will always have room for one or two (or more) "boat anchors" in my shack!
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by WB0CJB on November 28, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Extremely well said!!! Every piece of tube gear I ever had I miss and regret selling them. Now I have a TS-520S and Drake TR-4C/RV-4C. In the process of bringing an HW-100 to life and a TR-4 for a friend of mine.I love the warm glow of the tubes on a cold winter night and the quiet of a good old fashioned ragchew on 80 CW as the rig keeps the shack toasty warm.
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KE4DRN on November 28, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article.

I've learned a lot more about how our radios work
by listening and turning the knobs on my used
TS-520 for over two years before I had the time to
take the exam for my General.

Once you have your Elmer show you the correct way
to tune your older radio you're good to go!

My 520 has first position on my desk along with my
530 and the 570.

Plenty of support out on the groups for these fine radios
and they are easy to repair if needed.

73 james
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by G3LBS on November 29, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Well that's the point - if the entrance training to ham radio was practical and non-hierarchical, instead of theoretical, a lot more young people would be joining.
Oh my goodness what have I done? - I have opened the usual cans of worms to the discussion - we will soon have the ARRL, Emergency wanabees, CW recruiters, QRPers, non-incentive incentive-destroying Super-Advanced Class license boasters, illegal complex band-plan administrators and CB killers coming out of the woodwork.
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by VE6TL on November 29, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
For me, the thrill of running the old gear is that they appeal to all the senses, not just the ears and eyes. When I turn on the old set, I can smell it warming up, hear the pops, crackles and buzzes. I can feel the heat and see the tubes glow. Making a QSO is not just clicking on a spot and hitting a function key. There's the challenge of zero beating and flipping switches to mute this and connect that. In short, there's a lot more effort involved, which has lead to all the innovation since the boat anchor days.

The other thing is that most of the old gear was made in a time where manufacturers were more interested in quality than in designing something that would only last a few years. I'm sure no one ever thought that vacuum tubes would still work 50+ years later. While many capacitors never made it this far, the fact that so many antiques are still functional is quite remarkable. Today's consumer electronics is designed with a shelf life of just a few years, if that. I bought a new Yaesu FTDX-5000MP a couple years ago and it already has a display problem that is popping up on many of them.

I am currently building a vintage station with three sets of transmitter/receiver combos, selectable by a three position antenna switch. I will still have my modern station for most days, but it will be fun to test drive the old gear every now and then.

Long live the boat anchor! But watch your back!
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by K3LUE on November 29, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
We just can't seem to keep politics out of the discussion. This time it's Al Gore. Keep that talk for 75 phone roundtables or your local coffee shop, ok?
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by K3LUE on November 29, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
We just can't seem to keep politics out of the discussion. This time it's Al Gore. Keep that talk for 75 phone roundtables or your local coffee shop, ok?
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by WA7NDD on November 29, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
In reading the posts it is obvious, as least to me, younger hams are considering Swan 350’s and 500’s, Kenwood 520’s and 530’s, and Yeasu FT101’s boat anchors. In my opinion, they are not. They all were the revolution in ham radio. The Swan 500 and 700 were out in the mid 1960’s, a bit drifty, but very good. The 520 and 101EEE set the benchmark for radios in the early 1970’s. You could lift them they had a handle and built in power supplies. Before that, it was separate receivers and transmitters, and the transmitters were very heavy. The only rig using a separate receiver and transmitter, in the mid 1960’s, and considered a top of the line rig was Drake, even today, they compete very well with modern radios, and you can lift them. In 1960, three to four hundred dollar was a month’s pay and the Drake line was over $1000, and Collins was out of the reach of most hams. None of these radios would anchor your boat, but try lifting a Heath Kit DX100 or a similar transmitter. I feel the boat anchor era ended in the mid 1960’s and modern concepts of ham radio started. After 1970, there was no looking back except for those, like me, who are filled with nostalgia. When tubes I use to pay a dollar for, sale for the prices they do today, blunts any enthusiasm to feel the heat and smell the dust fry. Today I am all modern, all solid state, and happy. One last thing, when I am gone, my wife won’t have to deal with a bunch iron that cheap hams descend on and offer nothing for.
Jim, WA7NDD
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KC5YN on November 29, 2012 Mail this to a friend!

My first rig was a Swan 350 and first QSO was with a dipole strung over a tree! It was contact in VA and the XYL was amazed. Still have that rig, as well as an Atlas 210 that gave great mobile service.
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by K0ZZY on November 29, 2012 Mail this to a friend!

Where have all the antiques gone,
Long time passing,
Where have all the true hams gone,
Long Long time ago.
Where have all the home-brews gone
Long time passing
Gone to chips and qrp
What did we ever learn
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by K4EQ on November 29, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I got started out on Heathkits: AT-1 and DX-20 transmitters and an AR-3 receiver. They were great fun and the thought of those days gets my nostalgic juices flowing. But I love modern solid state technology and would never want to go back to using only the old boat anchors. Shucks, just about any of my simple QRP rigs would run circles around my original 1960 station. So, for me, it's YES to boat anchors for an occasional nostalgic high, but NO to boat anchors for everyday, 21st century hamming.
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by K1CJS on November 30, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I look at an article like this and I agree with the thought that maybe the old boat anchors had/have something that the newer radios don't. Then I look at the majority of hams today who say that "for the money" the new radios (handi-talkies) coming out of China are great.

It makes me want to puke. The great 'throw away' society that the modern generation have brought into being isn't better than the way our mothers and fathers used to do things--and even though we thought that they had old fashioned ideas and priorities, all too often today, we find out that their way WAS the better way.
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by AE5QB on November 30, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
K1CJS

Your response is clearly opinion and not fact and I reject your gratuitous assumption.

The real fact is that WE meaning you and I, are the ones who built the society we have today. I often tell my colleagues and parents (I am a teacher) that today's generation are the way they are because we made them this way. It is our responsibility to try to instill the "right" value system in them if that is what we choose to do. While the notion of the good ole days are quite romantic and nostalgic, I am guessing few of us would want to go back to the daily lives of 3 or 4 generations ago. They are only the good ole days because we remember the good and have chosen to set aside the challenges and the bad in memory of the good.

We only need look in the mirror to see the cause of our current situation.

And don't flame me, there are exceptions on an individual basis. I am talking about the collective WE as in the past two generations. We are now reaping what we have sown.
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by W8AAZ on November 30, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Well try to own a modern rig and a boatanchor too. For fun. And if the old rig blows up smoke you still got your new rig. And if your new rig suffers a computer brain fart, you still got your non-computer, static electricity proof desk crusher. But nostalgia clouds reality, as you may find buying your youth radio and rediscovering the actual performance limits of the set.
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KC6SOT on November 30, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Dwayne,
Amen brother. I'm in full agreement. I'm a baby boomer and want to preserve the old boat anchors. I recently purchased a pair of S line radios. 75S-3 and a 32S-3. I plan on operating the radios in the near future and keeping my shack warm. Long live the boat anchors.
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KJ4WS on November 30, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
There is no investment of time in these New Wonder Rigs. They are looked up online, bought with a credit card and when they arrive at your door. All you must do is take them out of the box and hook them up. People have always been able to purchase Factory Built Rigs. But, what about those of us who did take weeks and even months to build our own? As for me, the old SB-101 Heathkit was a labor of love. A Ham gets attached to a radio that he builds as a kit. From the OMG what have I gotten myself into ...... To the OMG this thing works great and I BUILT IT !! There are many highs and lows but, once built and working, there is much more pride in ownership. I currently own several Late Model YaeKenChiCom rigs. My Heathkit gear will be on the Top Shelf at this Shack until they carry me out of the house feet first. That's just the way it is. My Paragon Never Fails. The FT-897D that I bought to play with works good. The TS-2000 is a good rig. But when I fire up the old Heathkit ( at least every couple of months ) and Key that old Straight D-104 Microphone. People tell me that I have Never sounded better. ( after the 30 minute warm up ) And WHY do I ever need a New Amp ?? They are making Copies of both my Heathkit SB-200 and SB-220 still. The SB-200 has the Original 572B tubes and it is 40 years old. Thanks for the article and all of the comments. I think that it may be time to fire the old gear up and talk a while. The SB-200 is still used everyday. I think that maybe I will look at some more Spots on the walls and ceiling tomorrow. Any real Rig will also Heat up a Ham Sandwich quite well, when you set the plate on top of it !! Okay, the New Stuff is Great, Wonderful and Fantastic. But, can you fix it? Can you say that you built it and know the Rig inside and out. I believe that is the reason some of us Old Timers get so attached to our Boat Anchor Stuff. Look me up on QRZ ... And look at the position of honor I have given the stuff assembled with my hands and a good soldering iron. Quick Tip .... If you drop a Hot Soldering Iron... Do Not Attempt to Catch It !! I still have a scar from that bright idea...
73 to all de KJ4WS/Wade
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by K1CJS on December 1, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
AE5QB, No flames, but I'll tell you this--there are people who have railed against the way this 'new' generation has been shown and taught to do things, so don't accuse me of making this generation the way it is now. In short, I reject YOUR 'gratuitous' assumptions.
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by K9MHZ on December 1, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
K1CJS and AE5QB.....

I get the impression that you guys are actually more in agreement than you realize.

One thing I'll throw out for consideration wrt younger generations......I think we sometimes give them way too much credit in the "it's all about me" thinking. Personally (be gentle), I think they just don't care, period. Many seem to wander from one amusement to the next, and assuming much calculation on their part is giving them way more credit than they deserve.

But many are very motivated, and in fact those who are tend to be hyper-motivated, which is refreshing. Too, values of selflessness and service can be taught. The military has done a terrific job of that in recent years. Recognizing the same things that old guys like us debate, the military instituted a core values system, deglamorized alcohol use/abuse, tightened standards of physical fitness and professional image, etc. It really is that island of sanity in our modern world of lunatics.


Oh sorry, for the thread purists.... Love those boat anchors. The Collins S Line looks terrific next to the Icom!

Best,
Brad,

 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KC7KLZ on December 1, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I find it interesting how passionate hams can get about the aspects of the hobby they practice. Several years ago I was talking to a friend of mine on a local repeater telling him about a new toy I bought. A person who did not elect to broadcast his ID broke in and said "A ham radio is not a toy." After a bit of silence my friend responded with a big OK, and then we continued our conversation.

The point I'm making is Ham radio is a hobby that has a number of different elements. Building, running and refurbishing Boat anchors is just on element.

'73

Eric Scott
KC7KLZ/ VE7KLZ (pending)

I like adding my $.02 cents worth....
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by K9MHZ on December 1, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Eric,

Don't get rattled by that putz you mentioned. It's no secret that this hobby, fun and interesting as it is, has a significant percentage of really weird guys. Unfortunately that's always been the case...it is what it is. The pretend Dr. Phils of the world can try and assign reasons for it.....reclusiveness, asperger's, OCD, you name it. The good news is that there are many good people out there who make up for the boneheads and also add to the hobby in many very positive ways.

Best,
Brad
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KC0JEZ on December 1, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Exactly. Not only is my shack all boat anchors, darn near everything in there is MADE IN THE USA. It's not my fault you have to go back 40, 50, even 60 years to get a radio made in the USA. I'm running a Swan 500, and a 700CX and two different Cygnets. A Hallicrafters receiver and transmitter for AM and CW, and a Drake UV-3 for two meter local repeater stuff (no tubes, but made in the USA). All my mics are vintage Turners and Shure, one Astatic, and made n the USA. Antenna switches, monitor speakers, all USA and of boat anchor vintage.

Drifty? Perhaps. Let 'em warm up for half an hour and you're good. I never hit the wrong button, never bump to the wrong menu, never blow a touchy final or IC. Don't need an external amp, what with getting several hundred watts out of a well tuned and maintained Swan. Don't need an external tuner, as these vintage radios with their pi networks can match to darn near any antenna, no matter how crappy it is.

People whine about the price of those tubes, too. OK, the finals can set you back a bit, but the rest pretty common and inexpensive. Besides, if I have $400 into a nice Boat Anchor, and you have a new $4000 radio, that 3600 dollar difference will buy a heck of a lot of final tubes! My Hallicrafters transmitter has had the original tubes in it for about 50 years now, so I guess that's not too bad.

Face it, a large percentage of the people who love the new radios are the people who would never consider opening up the radio and getting out a soldering iron to work on it. They just want to buy it and use it, and brag about the amazing complexity of all it's little buttons.

And just think, I get all those reports of amazing audio through a 40 dollar 40-50 year old mic plugged straight into a radio full of tubes!
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KB2CPW on December 1, 2012 Mail this to a friend!

Bravo KC0JEZ,

I laugh at some of the comments about new gear, half of these guys arguing for solid state wouldn't even know which end of a soldering iron gets hot. I restored a Hurricane and its my primary rig. I do have modern radio's in the shack but this rig is awesome and when I am done tuning up, I have 500-1100 watts at my beck and call. I can hear everything out there, the RX is superb. Let them believe what they want.

As far as modern stuff goes, I laugh when someone goes out and buys a 5k plus radio thinking its better. There are alot of rigs way cheaper that have excellent RX's and sound awesome on the air to boot. But I am not one to stop fools for spending their money unwisely.
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by K1CJS on December 2, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
CPW, You don't grab the end that gets hot! If you don't know which end that is, either find out the hard way, or get a soldering gun. ;-)

BTW, My main rig is a Yaesu FT-101EE. No, it's not all glow and warm, but it's not all solid state either. 73!
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by W3KFQ on December 2, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Hi Dwayne

You voice a familiar and important concern for all the folks to consider.

Ham radio is many different skills and technologies woven together to provide us with hours of enjoyment and opportunities to learn many new things.

For some reason, many feel the need to (simplify)ham radio to make it more attractive to newcomers. I feel that we have done everyone a disservice in that pursuit.

New gear should be more than a marketing ploy to unload a boatload of offshore designs and fabrications built by people who earn $.50 a day

Dwayne is right, many have tried to get current rigs fixed, only to run into the nightmare of shipping damage, no parts available, obsolete at two years old, or the cost of repair being so high that the equipment gets tossed.

Ham radio should be for the people of modest means as well as those with greater resources. Interest and intelligence is not defined by financial capabilities.

Lets not turn ham radio into a house of cards in the mad dash to "change" everything to make everyone happy........

Robert
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by W3KFQ on December 2, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Can you fix a SDR with a VTVM, a soldering gun and a few hand tools..try it..didn't think so.

Robert
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KB2CPW on December 2, 2012 Mail this to a friend!

The solution is to buy two SDR's .........


......and then throw both of them away......
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KA0AAM on December 2, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
CPW:The solution is to buy two SDR's .........


......and then throw both of them away......


You owe me a new keyboard. It is now full of mountain dew. Darn that was funny!!!
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by K4KYV on December 3, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I'm still using the same homebrew KW rig that I built in 1970 or 71, and the other homebrew rig I built in 1976. Still occasionally make modifications to both rigs or change out an individual component in one of the rigs when I stumble across a better one at a hamfest, flea market or estate sale.
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KD6RF on December 4, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article Dwayne.

In addition to more modern rigs, I also have and use an HW101, a Hammarlund HQ-145 RX, and a Gonset GSB-100 TX.

The Gonset resurrection is still on my list of things to do, but is close to being done. Can't wait to hook it up to the laptop on JT65-HF mode, and send:

GONSET TX 20W

It will be interesting to see if the final tube can take 45 second CW transmissions :)
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by W1RC on December 5, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
The nicest thing about amateur radio is that there is something for everybody.

Personally I prefer the "Old School" philosophy but also enjoy playing with the latest and greatest technologies as well. Since tube-based equipment was what was used when I first got into it I tend to stick with what is familiar to me.

I am still running the same Collins "S-Line" I've had on the air since the 1970s. I know what the controls do and I am able to fix it quickly in the event that it goes down. Collins radios are timeless in their design and represent American technology when it was without question the best there was. Unfortunately I cannot say the same thing for my IC-7000. But notwithstanding they are both excellent pieces of equipment in their own right.



 
THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK  
by WB9QEL on December 5, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
THIS IS AE5QB


K1CJS

Your response is clearly opinion and not fact and I reject your gratuitous assumption.

The real fact is that WE meaning you and I, are the ones who built the society we have today. I often tell my colleagues and parents (I am a teacher) that today's generation are the way they are because we made them this way. It is our responsibility to try to instill the "right" value system in them if that is what we choose to do. While the notion of the good ole days are quite romantic and nostalgic, I am guessing few of us would want to go back to the daily lives of 3 or 4 generations ago. They are only the good ole days because we remember the good and have chosen to set aside the challenges and the bad in memory of the good.

We only need look in the mirror to see the cause of our current situation.

And don't flame me, there are exceptions on an individual basis. I am talking about the collective WE as in the past two generations. We are now reaping what we have sown.


-----------------------------------

THIS IS W9ZXT

Your collective WE and my collective WE are 180 Degrees out of phase I think.

I haven't chosen to set aside the challenges of the bad in memory of the good.

You speak about the good ole days as being bad, few of us would want to go back.

You say it's our responsibility to instill the "right" value system in them. (Your a Teacher).

You say today's generation are the way they are because we made them this way.

THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK!









 
RE: THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK  
by K1CJS on December 6, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
AE5QB, so you're saying that the old radios aren't any good and should be thrown out? It certainly seems so.
 
RE: THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK  
by KB2CPW on December 6, 2012 Mail this to a friend!

No, he is saying we are responsible for why tube radios and newbies/techies don't mix. We bred this mess of society today by just having a heartbeat and living through it. We are to blame why people behave the way they do, they are not responsible for themselves or their children's behavior at all.

I remember telling people my whole life to lease a new car every two years, buy houses they couldn't afford, live for the moment, never learn to repair anything and to just throw it out. Get that new rig because new is better, blah blah blah...

He knows better, he is a teacher. ;-p
 
Like a Fine Wine -  
by W7ASA on December 7, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I had the pleasure of a nice, long QSO with Dwayne last night on firty. He was using his Eico 720 and Hammarlund receiver. The Eico is the SAME model that was the heart of my novice station. It was a very good conversatin and we talked of tubes, the time when transistors were new. QRP rigs in the mountains and etc. In short - it was a foor chat between two hams and her was using gear that many claim is entirely unusuable.

Like many things in life, when you own ytour skills, it's not the equipment as much as it's the operator. You lear to tweek the dial a little bit in drift, how to zero beat, rather than having the rig tell you when you've matched the sidetone of the other fellow. Filters may or may not be all that narrow in an older rig (R-390 series exempted.) andin that era,'tight skirts are whay my favorite teacher wore daily in my late 1960's English class...

In short - it's not the wand - it's the wizard. There are still those who can build a rig from scratch. Sure, it won't be the same as the wondrous TS590s and etc. but you CAN tap code with it and have a roaring good time, which after all is what ham is all about.

If we were running dedicated point-to-point for pay, then we would ensure that we are competitive by getting the best equipment for that service as we could buy. On the other hand, if we're doing this for enjoyment and relaxation, it may not matter to many of us, to tounch the dial a bit to keep the other fellow centered in the passband as our receiver warms-up.

Hey Dwayne - I'll be looking for you on the air with your vintage radios, likely using one of my solid state home brew projects. Though I am beginning to think about a two triode regen with crystal controlled 12AX7/1625 MOPA TX may resurface in the inventory, as long as I keep it small.

73 de Ray
W7ASA ..._ ._
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by K6BZZ on December 9, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Great article Dwane. Thanks. A corner of my shack has a NC-300 and Viking Valiant all tuned up and ready to go on 7.293 AM. Great fun..'73 de Dick K6BZZ ex-W5UFZ
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by W8AJS on December 9, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Good article enjoyed it very much.....Glad Ive been keeping my Drake line working over the years.
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by N0SOY on December 10, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
While this does not fall into a boat anchor catagory it is somewhat relevent.

Simplicity has been lost in modern radios. For me and many other radio is a hobby. I have very limited time to devote to it. When I get a radio I do not want to deal with menus and other nonsense. I do not want to read a manual the size of one for a 747 to get on the air. Do not get me wrong, I enjoy technology but simplicity has its place. I bought a MFJ 9440 ssb radio and it is simple to use and reminds me somewhat of the way radios were, simple to operate and made for specific function.

One of my friends who let her ham license expire years ago for several reasons and is not tech nuts, took a look at the MFJ and fell in love with it. I may get her to restore her license. Now if someone would make a version that is multi band and 50 to 100 watts.

As far as recievers my favorite ones right now is the old black zenith transocianic and a Hallicrafter 38e that needs a new power supply cap.
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by K1CJS on December 11, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
"Simplicity has been lost in modern radios."

That just about says it all. Today's radios are full of wonders--so much so that hardly anybody can really work all the gadgets that are on one of them. And the radio manufacturers just go on putting more and more of the fancy toys into each successive one.

Today's HT (just pick one--they're all the same for the purpose of what is being said) has so many menu items and other bells and whistles that they're just about impossible to program manually. You NEED a computer!

Hey, convenience is one thing, but I don't need a flashlight, an AM/FM receiver, a purposed lightning detector and all the other 'improvements' on my ham radio rig. I've got things that will do those jobs already.
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by K2OWR on December 12, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
My two cents....To say that the old "boat anchors" were actually better radios is a bit silly frankly. Trying to use one on today's crowded bands is beyond difficult. With almost no ability to reject nearby signals, tuning requirements, typically poor audio, and no built in antenna tuners, they simply are not up to certain jobs. This is why the hams who use this equipment stick to certain reserved frequencies where they can operate without dealing with modern day high power SSB stations stacked right next to each other.

Having said that I have to admit that after listening to a bunch of guys on 75 AM not too long ago, I found the conversation fascinating, and had to admire the audio quality these guys spent endless hours discussing how to achieve. I quickly got the bug myself and set out to find some equipment to restore for myself. I specifically sought out radios that were at their peak when I first became a ham. With the help of some of these guys, I was able to locate a transmitter and receiver from that era that was within my ability to restore. Having long ago given up my extensive homebrewing habits I found the entire process extremely rewarding and reminiscent of the old days, not to mention a bit challenging. When I finally got my Johnson Valiant 2 and NC-300 on the air it was very rewarding to be told my equipment sounded great! The warm glow of the tubes, and that special way the plate modulation transformer shakes the table when I speak into my old D-104 mic is a feeling hard to match with the new stuff.

But make no mistake about it, without the kindness of other hams respecting the tiny piece of spectrum left for these old radios, when a SSB station gets near us I instinctively reach for the digital processing knobs to get away from them, but they're not there.
 
RE: The Aging Boat Anchors  
by N2LWE on December 16, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Bob, I agree with you. A lot of show offs trying to impress others. Do I like some new stuff? Absolutely. I wish I can afford a Yaesu FT-2000. I love that rig. But, I also love my old Siltronix 1011C I bought when I was 16 years old back in 1976 during the CB craze. I bought it off of a ham that just purchased Kenwood twins at the time. Well, I still own that Siltronix and will never part with it. I just posted in another area "10 meters is open" When it comes to 10 meters. I think Siltronix. Even if I eventually get an FT-2000, as I scroll through the bands if 10 meters are busy, I warm up that old Siltronix, feel the heat coming from it, watch those tubes light up and have some fun with that radio and the D-104 that is connected to it. I also, have the "Old radio" bug in me and want to buy an old Yaesu FT-101EE and a Heath Kit SB-401 and 301. The new stuff out there is nice, but it has it's place. The old stuff is nice too.
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KA5PIU on December 17, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Aging boat anchors have their use.
But I see nothing wrong with plugging in an external VFO that is all digital.
At that point drift and frequency ambiguity is a thing of the past.
And, yes, solid state does fail, but is way more reliable than consumer level tube electronics.
Tube TV sets required regular service, solid state sets last a lifetime of 8 to 12 years for the CRT units and you buy a new one.
The old one becomes parts for the junk bin.
A modern TV set has nearly all the parts to build a digital VFO.
With an old TV you could build the rig.
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by KE8EC on December 22, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I had a Galaxy V MK 3(?) for my first rig. Also the external VFO and a really neat CW filter. I loved the look of the rig, particularly at night. I don't blame anyone for wanting to keep the old rigs running and fire them up.
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by DG3KCW on December 29, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Dear Dwayne,

thanks a lot for your article which strongly touched me. Indeed I cannot but agree with you, even though being a "semi-boat-anchor-man" only, using a TS 830S for main operation (another TS 830S in a wonderful shape just placed on the shelf for the unlikely case of a failure of my diamond...). It is what you say, firing up the tubes creates a particular warm, inviting atmosphere which reminds me of my very early days where the (b&w) TV-sets were mainly composed of tubes which generated a specific smell in the living room....Obviously this is the reason why I kept the link to these (semi-) boat anchors...However, it is more than that. Even though these modern type radios are fully fledged with all kinds of filtering, noise reduction etc., most important is that noise does not appear at the very beginning, then there is nothing to eliminate...Therefore I may "upgrade" to a "full" boat anchor shortly which would give me the opportunity to re-apply certain technical skills I was used to, some decades ago...

It was actually a pleasure to read your article and I was really smiling and laughing when I came upon certain phrases then explaining my feelings to my YL explaining her what a boat anchor is....

Obviously you have a great talent not only in "boat ancors" but as well in writing articles and stories obviously. Go on like this and it will be a pleasure to read more from you!

My very best regards

Rainer, DG3KCW begging for apologies for my second tier english.
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by VK3DWZ on January 3, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Like a lot of "ageing" Amateurs, I grew up in the valve era and I own one of the grandest Boat Anchors of all--the R-390A. A wonderful receiver, and thank you for such a wonderful article.

Only one thing: the heat they produce is very unwelcome in an Australian summer. Our "shack" is not air-conditioned and on a day like to-day--40 degrees++--our Boatanchor stays silent!
 
The Aging Boat Anchors  
by VA3MLV on January 6, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Wow I can't believe my ears and eyes on some of the reviews I read, but I guess to each there own liking, well for my opinion on the older rigs that I call real radios is that if its still working after 30+ years what else do you have to be convinced by, I have a FT 101ZD mk3 that I purchased as my first HF radio when I got my amateur license almost 2yrs ago ( 2011/ April ) I still have the rig and will never get rid of it ( never ) I use it on the higher bands on HF everytime I'm up there, it has 12BY7A and two 6146B tube finals. I learned on my own how to use this specific rig after becoming comfortable with the info in the operating manual that I got with the rig, now I can tune up anything on my own. Don't need anyone to come over and tune anything for me cause you know how that works , sometimes you be waiting for someone for ever so it benighted myself in that area, but ok for most of what I can really say about the one that I have I'm really happy and appreciative for owning a piece of amateur history and quality, no issues and in beauty condition. Got pics on QRZ.com 73 from Ontario Canada
 
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